What we do

The Legal Ombudsman was set up in 2010. In this time we have helped thousands of consumers and their legal service providers resolve complaints about the service which has been provided.

Our job is to guide consumers and service providers through the complaints process. We have lots of information to do this, but here are the three key things to remember:


Before we investigate consumers must complain directly to their legal service provider. Providers are required to tell people about their complaints process.


We are independent and impartial. Our focus is whether the service was reasonable. We make decisions using evidence provided by consumers and service providers.


We can direct service providers to pay compensation when evidence shows it is required. We can also direct that work is re-done or completed or that no action is needed.

Common complaints

We investigate complaints about the service which consumers have received. These complaints often happen when consumers have used a service provider to buy a house, pursue a personal injury claim, resolve family issues or administer a family members estate. The most common complaints include:

  • Costs: the costs were unclear or different from the original estimate.

  • Delay: no clear reason for the work taking longer than expected.

  • Poor information: a process wasn't well explained, or there wasn’t enough information for a consumer to make an informed choice.

Our case studies section gives more examples of the complaints we investigate, the remedies we can award as well as the reasons why we might decide not to investigate a complaint.

Legal service providers

We accept complaints about service providers who are regulated. These include:

  • Solicitors
  • Barristers
  • Licensed conveyancers
  • Cost lawyers
  • Legal executives
  • Notaries
  • Patent attorneys
  • Trade mark attorneys; and
  • Some accountants providing probate services.

Most providers display their regulation number on their website and correspondence.

What is an ombudsman?

The ombudsman name comes from Sweden - there are lots of different ombudsman around the world.

In England and Wales we have ombudsman for the financial sector, parliament and health services, pensions and utility companies, as well as the regulated legal sector.

All ombudsman work in areas where it can seem more difficult for people to make their voice heard and can be more difficult for members of the public to get justice when things go wrong.

Here are some other areas common to ombudsman schemes:

  • Our services are free to members of the public.

  • We ask people and their service provider to try and resolve the complaint by themselves first.

  • We are independent and impartial. Our job is to look at both sides of the situation and decide what is reasonable.

  • We decide each case based on what was reasonable in those circumstances. For example a delay in doing some work to sell your home could have a big impact, but wouldn’t in a litigation case.

  • Our job is to improve customer service and complaints handling. We always try to learn from our work and share this with the sectors we work with.

Our rules

Our scheme rules set out the framework for how the Legal Ombudsman resolves complaints about legal services.

These are approved by the Legal Services Board and the Lord Chancellor as required by the Legal Services Act 2007.

You can learn more about our organisation and governance in the corporate section of this website.